caroline paul on courage

A lot of people think of courage as taking risks so as to change a situation. Some can go as far as thinking of facing a lion and triumphing.

Physical courage has its role. However, that’s not what I’m not talking about today. Instead, I’d like to focus on inner courage. This is the inner conviction you have which allows you to make decisions and take actions without external influences.

This article is Part 3 in a series on Personal Development Skills for women. Need to catch up with previous posts in the series? Read them here:
3 Personal Development Skills That Will Make You Unstoppable.
Personal Development Skill #1: Increase Your Confidence.

Why should women be courageous?

On February 19, 2017, Susan Fowler, a former employee of Uber, blew the whistle on sexual harassment in Uber. She had worked there for a year and been harassed by her boss. Complaints to HR went unheeded and she finally opted to leave in December 2016.

She wrote about her experience in her personal blog and exposed a corporate culture that undermined women and openly celebrated their harassment. Her blog post went viral and forced Uber to turn around and start a remedial process.

This is just one example of the challenges women go through at work and in their personal lives. It takes a lot of courage to step away and say, “Enough is enough.” It takes more courage to turn around and confront the people who have made your life hell.

Among other things, you need to have courage to:

  • ask for what you want in your life, career and relationships.
  • be yourself and live your life your way.
  • be, do or have what you want.
  • say no, yes or compromise depending on what suits you best.
  • kick out your dream stealers and people who put you down or erode your motivation and confidence.

This is just a sample list and you can add more to it depending on your situation.

Every woman should have the courage to ask for what you want in your life, career and relationships. Click To Tweet

Who is in control of your life?

Every day, I talk to women who have given up on their lives and dreams. One story that really touched me was a woman who told me that she could not buy things for herself because her husband complains when she does. It’s OK for her to splurge on the home or their children, but she cannot splurge on herself because it will annoy her husband.

She gave an example of a time when they’d gone to the supermarket and everyone picked what they wanted. Unfortunately, her husband was short of money. So he told her to remove her things so that the money he had would be enough. It was painful for her to watch the children’s snacks getting paid for and everything she wanted being left in the basket.

She didn’t have the courage to change this situation, especially because she was a stay-at-home mum and had never worked in a formal job. This experience made her take stock of her life and evaluate whether it was worth relying on her husband for money.

Eventually, she started a home-based business that didn’t interfere with the children’s schedule. The last time we spoke, her business had picked up. Interestingly, her husband, who had been against the business when she started, has become her main cheerleader.

This a common scenario and one that I too have lived. However, not all stories end in such a positive way. I know many women who have chosen to accept their status quo and do nothing. They don’t have the courage to steer their lives in a different direction because they are afraid of rocking the boat.

How to boost your courage

If you don’t have confidence and courage, you will spend time catering to the needs, wants and desires of your spouse, partner, friends, family, colleagues…everyone else but yourself!

Many women haven’t consciously thought about what they want in life. Or maybe they’ve thought about it, but are used to having other people make decisions for them. Some have given up on their dreams in order to follow a prescribed path.

Others have accepted their current life as one that is their lot in life and settled into it. They dream, but stop taking action on their dreams because there are too many other vested interests in their lives. They’re also afraid of upsetting other people if they take action on their dreams.

Use this 3-step system if you’re ready to boost your courage and change your life.

Step 1: Decide

Decide to change your life and commit to stick to this decision. Next, identify the things you want to be, do or have. The following resources on this blog have useful tips if you’re stuck or fear taking action:

The following resources on this blog have useful tips if you’re stuck or fear taking action:

If your life is now on overdrive and you’re struggling to slow down and make time for yourself, sign up for the weekly newsletter and download the Break Free eBook for free. This complimentary book has strategies to help you get out of being overwhelmed and overworked.

Step 2: Evaluate and set goals

Cross-examine your life and identify what is holding you back from achieving the life of your dreams. This evaluation can be painful. Do it at a time when you’re alone and free from distractions.

The following articles have useful tips for personal evaluations and goal setting:

When the evaluation is complete, pick out 3 actions that you’ll take to change your life. At least one of these actions should involve you stepping out of your comfort zone.

Step 3: Take action

Take action one day at a time. Start with small actions as you build your courage and action muscles.

Here are some ideas to start with:

  • Decide what type of beverage you prefer and buy that for yourself at home and in the workplace.
  • Give yourself a treat that you would not have given yourself.
  • Say “No” to requests or activities that you don’t like doing. This includes saying “No” to picking up other people’s slack in the house or in your office.

Taking at least one action daily is the fastest way to build your courage.

The following resources will help you chunk down your goals into manageable steps and then take action daily, weekly and monthly.

Just like confidence, no one can teach you how to be courageous. But if you want to live a happier and more fulfilled life, you need to become courageous and take action.

Sometimes you’ll take action and fail. Sometimes you’ll take action and succeed. Other times, you’ll take action and nothing changes.

However, the very act of taking action will change something in your mind; it will give you a high and boost your confidence more than anything else.

There'll always be people who don't like you or the way you live your life. That's their problem, not yours! Click To Tweet

Final words

Confidence and courage work together. It’s hard to be courageous when you lack confidence. In return, being courageous boosts your confidence by providing you with new and better experiences.

Sometimes we lack courage because we don’t have enough people in our lives who support and encourage us. If this is you, then I have a solution.

Having written this post, I decided to take action on one thing I’ve been afraid of doing for a long time. I set up a Linkedin group called the Kenya Professional Women’s Network.

The aim of the group is to have a forum where Kenyan women in management and business can share experiences, network, learn and lean on each other. Check out the group and request to join on the link below:

Setting up such a forum has been my dream for many years, but I lacked the courage to do so. It’s now time to take a dose of my medicine and grow with other leaders.

See you in the group!

Your turn…

What is one thing you’re going to do after reading this post?

(Image credit: Pexels)

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that when you click on the links and buy from the vendor, I will receive an affiliate commission. However, I only recommend resources that I have used and that I believe will benefit you.


Caroline Gikonyo works with high-achieving professional and business women who are stuck, overwhelmed, overworked, unhappy and unfulfilled. She helps her clients become leaders in their professions and business industries once they get unstuck and eliminate time wastage. You can contact Caroline to request for a Strategy Session and find out how she can help you achieve better personal, professional, or business results.